Coldest Hour - Baker Company Drill

PFC Wallace
Rifleman
Baker Company, Second Platoon, Third Squad
29th Infantry Division


Marching in the snow, accompanied with a column of armored vehicles, we were directing our march to Lutremange, Bastogne, located in Belgium on the most south-eastern part of the Wallonia region, bordering with Luxembourg to the east. After the German Forces had been pushed out of France, we received reports that they are preparing an offense. Our company had been sent out to reinforce the village of Lutremange against the German attack.

I couldn't feel my own feet that had been pounding against the ice. They were numb. My crystal white sigh disappeared into the sky without a warning. As I gazed up above, I noticed the sun beginning to disappear as we prepared ourselves for a bitter night. I had only seen a few trees around us as we passed by a frozen lake. “That frozen lake reminds me of home,” remarked Sgt. Rogers. “How come?” I replied with confusion. “That lake, it looks the same as the lake near my house,” he answered while carrying his Thompson on his back. After the attack on the village of La Chapelle, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. PFC Chris also got promoted to Corporal after what he did on that attack. He helped the second squad secure the eastern flank. If not for his bravery, the second squad would not have been able to secure the eastern flank.

I turned my eyes toward the front where the line of men stretched out far. As the half-track passed by, it left a long track that beat the snow. Yesterday, I received a message from my wife saying that they are going to have a Christmas party this month. It was unfortunate for me that I could not celebrate it at home along with them. I was imagining my home, surrounded by my family during the Christmas night. We would gather around the warm fireplace together, but here I am instead, gathered around the decrepit dying fire with my comrades, protecting each other from the cold night. They would each tell their combat experience and what has been keeping them alive so far; only God knows when we will meet our death. We have lost so many good men, but their sacrifice for our freedom shall remain in our memories.

We arrived at Lutremange. The village was ravaged like it had been hit by a storm. Black smoke from the destroyed German half-track still steamed above as the corpses of both American and German soldiers lay around the blood-stained field, waiting to be eaten by the crows and flies. The stench of rotting blood soon filled the air. It was a horrible scene. This is the real portrait of war, no one ever could stand the horror. “Jesus Christ, what the hell happened here?” grunted PFC Gibson. “It seems that the Germans dealt a pretty blow on this village,” added Sgt. Rogers. Sgt. Rogers approached one of the leaders that led the defense of this village. He soon introduced himself as 2Lt. Davidson. “It’s good to see you Sergeant," he began. “Good to see you too, Sir. It seems you and your men did a solid defense again the Germans,” Sgt. Rogers replied. “Pretty much. Half of my men died during the attack yesterday,” said the Lieutenant with pained grief on his stained face. He felt responsible for the death of his men. “I’m sorry for your loss,” Sgt. Rogers answered. They began talking about a possible German counterattack: the whole company had to be prepared. Gibson, Brian, and I were stationed in a house that faced directly towards the forest to the north west. We were on the second floor. My vision was distorted by the winter fog as the tall frozen pine trees and bushes hid what was inside the forest.

The Lieutenant expected the German counterattack from that forest. We rested for several hours while taking turns on watch. Suddenly, an explosion went off at the next house. “Krauts!” yelled Gibson with his rifle aimed at the forest. The whole company was now alerted of the attack. I could see their helmets moving between the bushes. We fired few bullets at them as they returned the fire at us. The Germans began to advance out of forest, supported with a half-track.

Out of seemingly nowhere, a bazooka hit the half-track as it erupted in an explosion, being blown to pieces. The heat of the battle increased as they began raining mortars upon us. I remember this moment strongly. I remember the scene of horror of a soldier being blown into a red mist: my bravery once again shaken. I was screaming while I crouched, hugging my rifle. I couldn't stand this anymore, I just wanted to go home. I didn't want to be blown up like that soldier. I didn't want to die. “Wallace!” yelled Brian, approaching to comfort me. “Look at me, you’re going be okay. We’re here to protect you. Now get up and fight those Kraut bastards!” I nodded as I began to regain my bravery. I got up and fired a shot at the Germans, beginning now to push forward after the mortar rain had stopped. This was not going to be the end. We had to defend this village no matter what happened. Suddenly, I heard a roaring sound from above, a sound now so familiar to me, the deafening sound of a P-47 Thunderbolt. It soon dropped a series of bombs on the Germans, destroying all the armored vehicles that had emerged as the Germans began to retreat from the vicinity. I could hear all the cheers from my comrades. They praised the fighter plane as the savior of the day as I personally raised my thumb directly to the fighter as a sign of appreciation.

Today, I survived. There had been some casualties on our side, but luckily no one I knew. I do not know if I will survive till the end of the war, nor even till tomorrow, but the German mainland was just over there. I know this war will end, and I just have to fight and survive until then.


Written by PFC Wallace.
Edited by PFC Laird & 2Lt. Brewer.
Formatted by PFC Laird.

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